Update: You can now hear my interview with Tim Roye on Warriors.com.
Warriors radio play-by-play announcer Tim Roye interviewed me Monday morning for his “Mocking the Draft: Lottery Edition” feature on Warriors.com. Since the Warriors were nice enough to ask me to take part in what I think is a pretty cool series, I’m not going to tell you who I selected as the 11th pick in Mr. Roye’s Mocktacular, but I will tell you that I haven’t studied for something this hard — or gotten this nervous — for something in quite some time.
As a journalist, and especially as a “blogger” (still hate that word, but I also hate the word “tweet” and I had to swallow my pride there, so there you go), there are certain moments where you break through a supposed wall. My top three imagined obstacles:
1. Covering high school games and sending a final story, complete with quotes, to a real editor whose main concern is getting the score and the stats into the system by 11 pm, not waiting for a young reporter (otherwise known as a “stringer,” a name that’s only cool when referencing the character in The Wire) to transcribe some awesome quote he got from a high school quarterback about how he owes everything to his o-line. The whole process sounds silly when I describe it, but the first time your name goes on a publication that isn’t run by a teacher/professor/advisor, it’s a little nerve wracking. And yes, I’m old enough to have woken up early on a Saturday morning and drive to the closest liquor store to buy several copies of The Valley Times. Ah, print media.
2. My first freelance assignment for Gamespy: travel to Park City and interview Shaun White, who was promoting the first incarnation of his snowboarding game. The experience wasn’t incredibly intimidating once the little ginger started chattering away, but as I walked into that room where he sat with his publicist in the corner, watching me as if I was liable to try to make out with him at any moment, my heart was beating about twice as fast as usual. (No, we didn’t make out.)
3. Interviewing Nate Schierholtz over the phone for a now defunct Danville-centric weekly paper ran by the CC Times. Another huge barrier, especially since I had to call Schierholtz roughly 44 times to get a hold of him (the fact that he totally denied Eric Byrnes’ interview request recently because it came “too late” in the evening made me chuckle, I have to admit … Nate does have his schedule). Once the conversation with Schierholtz started rolling it was no problem, but leading up to the interview I might as well have been scheduling a one-on-one with Barack Obama.
From there it’s gotten easier. The first time in Cal’s football “press box” next to Ray Ratto scared me a little at first, but Ratto’s a lot nicer than he lets on (sorry to blow your cover, Ray). Warriors Media Day made sleep the night before a little harder to acquire, but in reality it was just a bunch of players sitting at tables who judged their own popularity by how many people wanted to ask them questions. Even questions from bloggers like me were welcomed, since to them it meant not being one of the fringe players nobody wanted to talk to.
Over time, press conferences at Cal, Stanford and Oracle started to feel normal. Interviewing Warriors in the locker room grew less surreal, ever-closer to those chats I had with those victorious high school quarterbacks with dreams of Division I colleges in their heads and chunks of black FieldTurf tire remnants coating their helmets after EBAL games in Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton and Danville.
Celebrities became players, players became people. There was just one wall to break down: after years of interviewing people, answering the questions of someone in the mainstream media. Especially someone as polished as Roye, who could pull off one of these Q&A’s in his sleep.
I’ve done a few podcasts before, but I’m not the type to call into radio talk shows. On Monday morning, the Warriors lead play-by-play announcer was set to ask me my thoughts on the Warriors, and who they should draft. My thoughts, along with those of four other guys (Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Adam Lauridsen, Dan Turman and Rich Twu) who can write their asses off and focus pretty heavily the NBA and the Warriors (translation: they don’t spend anywhere near as much time as I do focusing on Jonathan Sanchez and Jim Harbaugh).
Actually, I’m shocked the Warriors invite me to do anything. I’ve crushed the Warriors several times over my three-plus years of doing BASG, featuring the time where I got defensive over Joe Lacob’s comments about bloggers not being real fans. Was Roye going to ask me what I thought gave me the right to rip with such impunity? Probably not, but I better bring my “A” game, such as it is.
Problem: I needed to be prepared to talk about one of the most nondescript drafts in recent memory, and I needed to be prepared in two ways:
1. Who I’d want the Warriors to pick in a perfect world (an easy question, since I decided in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard would be perfect for the Warriors, and Alec Burks of Colorado has a game so smooth it’s hard to imagine him not playing 10 years).
2. Who I’d pick in Roye’s mock draft, where 10 players were already “drafted” by broadcasters and beat writers for each team. Here’s the list.
You know the feeling when you have a final for a class you haven’t attended for the entire semester, but if you can pull a great performance out of your nethers you can not just pass the class, but steal a good grade? Yeah, me neither. But I learned what it’s like this weekend, when I studied slightly flawed players for hours on Saturday and most of Sunday … and could barely sleep on Sunday night.
Luckily I had some crazy dream where I was colonizing the moon with a select group of friends and relatives (not kidding) to keep me asleep for a solid four hours before I woke up at 5:45 with thoughts of Kenneth Faried. Over the weekend I had read so many synopses, watched so many videos of borderline lottery prospects making layups, my brain was Faried (without the “a”). But my mind spun with questions:
– Would Jordan Hamilton’s offensive game and rebounding make him a candidate to become a sixth man for the Warriors quicker than anyone else still available?
– Is Bismack Biyombo the next defensive force to watch out for, or does his LeBron-like hairline mean he probably isn’t really 18?
– Besides Biyombo, who else in this draft plays defense?
– Klay Thompson is probably the best shooter available (especially since the Jimmer won’t last past Utah AND Sacramento), but wasn’t 3-pt shooting the Warriors only real strength last season?
-Faried’s the only guy who signed with Bob Myers’ old agency (Wasserman Media Group), and I do love a good conspiracy theory … nahhhhh.
I spent about 75% of the next 2.5 hours thinking about who I’d pick in Roye’s mock draft, changing my mind three times while lying in my side telling myself in five minutes I’d relax and get myself the extra half hour of shuteye necessary to blow Roye away with knowledge and analysis I hadn’t quite formulated yet.
That didn’t exactly happen, but I did finally settle on a pick. Good thing, since Roye ONLY asked about who I’d pick in the mock draft he set up, not which guys I hoped fell to the Warriors (like Leonard and Burks). Like I said at the beginning, I can’t tell you whom I picked (yet) since Lacob so graciously let me back into the fold. And besides, if I lost sleep over this on Sunday night (and Monday night writing this, to be honest), I might as well make you guys wait to hear the 5-minute phone interview I did on Monday morning, fueled by coffee and the hope that this mental barrier would crumble like the rest.
Update: My pick is up! Check out my mock draft interview with Tim Roye!